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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Follow-up on School Closures

The implementation of the school closures has been quiet compared to the discussion of the plan. Personally, the only impact I have seen has been some new children in Pathfinder who came because their previous West Seattle elementary schools closed.

But I have been wondering about the schools and families more directly impacted, and would love to hear from families and teachers at those schools about what it has been like this year.

The Seattle PI today, has a piece that tracks the numbers: After 5 schools closed, 157 students left Seattle district, which certainly gives a partial picture of the impact, especially financially for the district. But I want to know more.

Stories anyone?

60 comments:

Jet City mom said...

Its all well and good to be involved in public education and to keep your eye on what serves the many- rather than the few.
But...
When you essentially have only 13 years from 5 to 18, to insure your child has the education foundation to prepare her for life, you look at your options with a harsher eye.

My oldest didn't get into either of public alternative schools we thought would be a "good enough" fit.

No money to move to another district, however, she could get financial aid to attend a private school, so we opted out.

I think it is good, that parents are utilizing their choices, it means they are paying attention.

I think it is naive however of Mr De Bell not to have anticipated that reaction however.

Roy Smith said...

(Partial repost from another thread) Questions that aren't answered in the PI article that I have:

1) Why isn't the district surveying the parents to find out why they are sending their students where they send them? In particular, why aren't they surveying parents that leave the district? It would be nice to know if the 157 students lost to the district (which represent about one million dollars per year in state funding) is normal turnover or if it is a reaction to the school closures.

2) Why was the estimate of costs associated with closure only one-third of the actual amount? Speaking for myself, I would probably lose my job if I had a $1 million cost overrun on what was initially planned to be a $500,000 project, unless there were some huge unforeseeable circumstances. So, who is responsible for this screw-up at the district? Have they been fired yet? If not, where is the explanation of the unforeseeable circumstances that were encountered?

3) Does the net $1.9 million savings per year include the impact of lower enrollment? (I assume it doesn't, but the article isn't clear on that point.)

Anonymous said...

Many were no resident students from Renton.

Beth Bakeman said...

Anonymous,

Do you know how many of the students who left were Renton residents?

And is the financial impact the same whether or not the students who left were Seattle residents?

Anonymous said...

Funny that the part about ML King says "1/3 of the students left the district entirely" without noting that the entire enrollment was about 100 students - and that 10-15% of them were from out of the district to begin with - which makes you wonder if enrolling at ML King was a labor of love on the part of those families, and if wasn't there to be enrolled in, they're going elsewhere and not TT Minor.

What the revenue arrangement is, I'm not sure - guessing that Seattle gets revenue for the OD children the same as it does for in-district.

Looking at past closures, enrollment losses were much larger and look to have been recouped in the following year (probably as many families who "went private" either found it isn't what they expected or simply wasn't affordable).

Both would have been interesting to include in the PI's story.

Jet City mom said...

this 2004 chart illustrates percent of school age children who are enrolled in public school- from the Seattle Weekly
http://www.seattleweekly.com/graphics/
features/0524/050615_school_map.gif

Some Seattle neighborhoods have a particularly low rate of public school attendance. Ironically, some of those neighborhoods often have some of the best public schools. Only 31 percent of schoolchildren in the Madison Park area around stellar McGilvra Elementary go to Seattle public schools, for example. In affluent Laurelhurst, 43 percent do. King County Executive Ron Sims stresses the exodus to private schools as he weighs in on the current predicament facing the Seattle district. With every departure from the public schools, the state sends Seattle less money. "You have to talk about volume" of students, he says. "You've got to increase the supply."

Anonymous said...

Several very prestigious private schools in both of these neighborhoods probably contribute to the low public school attendance. The massive, elite, Bush school in Madison Park, and The elite Epiphany school, and the Valley school compete in Madison Park, while the elite Villa Academy competes in Laurelhurst.

Couple the availability of top rated private schools with the unpredictable "choice" system in Seattle and you get many choosing private. McGilvra is one of the only high performing public schools in the Madison Park/Valley neighborhood. And they are a very small school. They get a large WL every year. If you don't get in you wind up in Madrona or MLK. Two of the lowest performing schools in the district. I would guess this is a huge factor in why families with the means, in that neighborhood, go private.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I was unhappy to read about this but a few things to note. Number one, I'd have to go back and look myself but it would have been nice to give a total number of students at the closed schools to give the 157 figure some perspective. Two, clearly the majority did stay, they just didn't go to the obvious choices. Three, I cannot believe the price tag for closing these schools. I'd have to ask what was done besides mothballing the buildings and team-building (I cannot believe the figure for that - it seems ridiculous). Four, SPS has been losing kids at a fairly steady rate so I don't find this news that surprising.

I say it over and over but I'll say it again; someone in leadership needs to keep a better eye on Facilities staff and not take what they say at face value.

This administration is saying they are data-driven. I wish that would extend to assignment and enrollment. They would be so much better off finding out WHY people choose as they do and WHY they leave. It seems folly to not do that because we are losing money as those kids leave.

Anonymous said...

Melissa W. said...
"...This administration is saying they are data-driven. I wish that would extend to assignment and enrollment."

This district is not data driven. SPS continually says they are... but clearly the SPS is not.

The data driven chant is in vogue these days in public education. In fact there is little to substantiate this as anything other than spin.

The education establishment is rife with research shows.

What I know about SPS is they make a non-data driven decision and then go looking for any possible numbers that can be found to support that decision.

This is cherry-picking numbers to justify irrational nonsense decisions. Clearly the SPS is anything but data driven.

Schools were not closed to save dollars but rather to increase central control over the system.

Read W. Edwards Deming's (1980)Out of the Crisis and (1993) The New Economics for Industry, Government, and Education to find out how to improve a system.

Recent past and present leadership has demonstrated little knowledge of system improvement.

Charlie Mas said...

So we have arrived at an unexpected conclusion. Families in North Capitol Hill and Laurelhurst are underserved by the District.

Usually when we hear about a community that is underserved it is a low-income community and they are underserved with a struggling school. These affluent communities, however, are underserved even more than that. They don't have a school at all. There was a time when you had to live within seven blocks of Montlake to get in. So what does that leave for all of the other families in the Montlake reference area? Why even draw the Montlake reference area as big as it is when the de facto reference area has a radius of less than ten blocks?

These families typically would list up to five schools on their school choice form, and then not get any of them. Instead of Montlake, McGilvra, Stevens, or TOPS (the four schools closest to their home) they would get a mandatory assignment to M L King or Thurgood Marshall. Frequently, the family would make other plans.

The District consciously chose to underserve these communities. The District consciously chose not to create more capacity in these neighborhoods.

When you think of popular programs that need to be duplicated or expanded, think also of Montlake, McGilvra, and Stevens.

When you think of communities underserved by the District, think also of North Capitol Hill and Laurelhurst.

And if you're thinking "Too bad for those rich folks, they can just send their kids to private school, or send their kids to Thurgood Marshall, or move out of the district" then you need to re-examine your perception of equity and the value you place on it.

Anonymous said...

Charlie, you hit the nail on the head. Why would a family with the means risk their child not getting into THEIR average or high performing public neighborhood school? Why would they be willing to take a mandatory assignment to a school that is not in their neighborhood, and among the very lowest performing in the district? Remember, these people have the means to pay for a private school, and there are plenty of prestigeous private schools in that area. These families, like it or not, are under served. It is true that they have NO school. They have to go to another neighborhood to attend a (low performing) school. Queen Anne has the same issue. I'm not sure if this is the case in Laurelhurt, or if Villa Academy has just been a very strong competitor in a very affluent neighborhood? It is however, definitely the case in Madison Park, and from Charlie's post it sounds like it is the case in North Capitol Hill and Montlake too.

Anonymous said...

A ton of kids who can afford private who live in Laurelhurst send their kids to Laurelhurst Elementary where there is pretty much 100 percent assurance you will get in (if applying in Kindergarten by the application deadline). The people I know in Laurelhurst don't for the following reasons:
1 - They are Catholic and want to send their children to a Catholic school such as Assumption St. Bridgets or Villa Academy
2 - They DON'T have the same assurance of getting into Eckstein (or Roosevelt for that matter) and like the K-8 assurance of not having to worry about it at Middle school
3 - They think Eckstein is too big and again want the K-8 assurance
4 - They are attracted to some of the schools that claim to be for the gifted such as Evergreen or Seattle Country Day School OR
5 - They want small class size (Villa's class size is 15 as is Meridian) and Laurelhurst is not known for small class size

There are of course the people who don't even give public schools a chance, but for the most part there is a wonderful community of Laurelhurst families at Laurelhurst Elementary and I was very impressed by the school when we toured it.

Anonymous said...

Charlie,

Excellent points. Sadly --for better learning for all to occur many students need to leave the SPS.

Consider Dr. G-J's plan for uniformity of materials and uniformity of daily instruction within the SPS. That plan fits like a glove with the under-serving you mention.

Charlie as an example of defective thinking commented "Too bad for those rich folks, they can just send their kids to private school, or send their kids to Thurgood Marshall, or move out of the district"

Should Dr. G-J's plan come to fruition we can expand that statement from rich folks to any folks with high academic expectations for their children.

The leadership of this district looks like a plan to produce a public outcry for "Charter Schools" or "Vouchers".

Might I again suggest that MGJ abandon the current plan of one size fits all because one size fits hardly anyone.

This district fails to observe board policy or make even the slightest reference to responsible academic actions in many plans and curricula selections.

Our Supt. has openly said that she would like Seattle to win the Broad Prize like NYC did this year. That can easily be done just fake the data of accomplishment like NYC.

The New York Sun
>>
N.Y. Gave the Most Breaks for School Exam
>>
By Elizabeth Green
Staff Reporter of the Sun November 21 , 2007

http://www.nysun.com/article/66792

So many New York City students received extra time and other accommodations on a respected national test this year that several testing experts are saying the results should be considered invalid.

On the test known as the nation's report card, the National Assessment of Educational Progress, New York state gave accommodations to more fourth-graders than any other state in the nation, and New York City gave more help than any of the ten other major cities that participate in a separate city-by-city comparison. On three of four tests the accommodation rate hovered around 20%. On the last - a fourth-grade math exam city officials are trumpeting as evidence the Bloomberg administration's schools program is working - the
rate was 25%.


Both NYC and Boston schools have a much higher poverty index than Seattle. Given current actions where many who can afford to leave SPS will, perhaps the SPS can move to a student poverty index number closer to that of NYC.

Large diverse urban school districts tend to respond to diverse political concerns (knee jerk) and seldom implement sustainable well thought out plans that produce continued long term academic gains.

The SPS has placed themselves so often into indefensible positions due to political expediency that student academic progress remains a continuing casualty.

Everyday Math & Connected Math adoptions - SPS follows guidance from OSPI, rather than implementing well thought-out plans based on what will actually work with our student populations.

Close schools rather than strengthen communities. Accurate cost data for the closings totally miscalculated. Are the frequent miscalculations of data accidental or purposely done to mislead School Board decision makers. The last board had a tendency to trust their hired experts - even when "The Experts" expertise and track record indicated no such trust was warranted.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Anonymous who pointed out the issues for the Laurelhurst area managed to address what the district doesn't. Namely, class size, gifted programming and big schools. The district is doing nothing to address these issues which frankly, I think parents all over the district struggle with.

And, from my experience on the FMP 2020 Committee, nothing is going to change. They are saying schools sizes will be even BIGGER. I told them, both verbally and in writing, that it was my experience that parents did NOT want bigger schools particularly for elementary and middle. They are not paying attention and, I suspect, neither is the Board. I urge you all to tell the new Board members that you do not support the school sizes in the new FMP.

Anonymous said...

Yup, the Laurelhurst poster was right on target.

If you have the means why would you deal with......

Lack of predictability in assignment.

Large schools with large class sizes.

No APP in the north end.

Not enough Spectrum seats to accommodate all of the kids that test in and are eligible and huge WL for the few seats that are available.

Anonymous said...

Melissa said:

About FMP 2020..."They are not paying attention and, I suspect, neither is the Board."

Not much surprise that the board is paying little attention --- the autocrats need not bother with the concerns of the ignorant peasants because the hired experts know best.

Anonymous said...

The North Capitol Hill situation is in large part a by-product of the lack of equity among schools south of the ship canal. If families living in all neighborhoods were all served equitably by excellent schools, there would be no need for families to leave their neighborhood schools to get a spot at Montlake, McGilvra, Stevens or TOPS. Families use false addresses or take a spot for their oldest sibling at whatever grade they can in these schools to use the sibling tiebreaker for the younger siblings. Parents are just trying to do the best they can for their kids. There are many, many Madrona families at McGilvra, Stevens and TOPS. They are not infiltrators or criminals, just families trying to make the Seattle Public Schools work for them. A few could opt out and go private, but they want to support public education. Most, however, cannot opt out. So while there may be a handful of families on North Capitol Hill that are frustrated by school choice, there are hundreds and hundreds of families south of those neighborhoods that are desperate for school choice and equity.

I wish we could keep the big picture in focus, instead of always concentrating on the needs of a few affluent neighborhoods that are usually mentioned here. We are all in this together.

Anonymous said...

Dear Big Picture,

The problem is that Large Urban School Districts have a history of pathetic operation.


Parents and the public can hardly be expected to realize how badly we have been deceived by the education machine that we thought had the best interests of our children and society as their primary focus. After all education research shows....
(exactly what it needs to show for the researcher to get the next grant- this is the piece the public does not know)

Parents tend to think their elected board members do brains in their heads.
The board is supposed to be directing the supt. and enacting policies and curricula that will increase learning. The public thinks this is happening. The public and parents do not realize that most central admin got to their current positions by whistling the PC tune with great skill and by political maneuvers to advance their careers (which had zero to do with improving learning) {remember WASL scores improved and the public does not realize that ITBS was stagnant}. That means most central admin that direct curricular choices will recommend the OSPI aligned choices, regardless of the damaging impact these may have. These admin have never really been concerned about anything other than determining the politically correct direction to face. (Side note Joe Kennedy, JFK's dad, was ambassador to Great Britain in the late 1930s. Joe had hoped to perhaps be president one day. This all ended when he mistakenly picked the PC wrong side in 1939 - he complimented the Nazi . No one in the SPS wanted to even acknowledge the existence of Singapore Math before WTM made some school board impact. You will also note very little has been done with Singapore Math in any school other than Schmidz Park and Schmidz Park is keeping quiet trying to fly under the radar.)

The school boards are often misled rather than informed about curricular choices by the central administration. {Look at the continually growing achievement gap in math in Seattle over the last decade, look at the pathetic math placement of recent high school grads at SCCC - the SPS admin down played the former by rarely mentioning it and was totally unaware of the later - So how will the largely unpaid board members deal with the situation - the answer is they will trust their hired experts, who know very little about how to improve anything and have never had the courage to do anything except advance their careers.}

Let us not expect better learning for all in this political climate of continuing dysfunction anytime soon.

Vote for Dr. Richard Semler for Supt. of Public Instruction in November of 2008. That will be a step in the correct direction.

Anonymous said...

Dear big picture,

If you go back to Charlie's original post it said that these affluent neighborhoods were under served too. In addition to the obviously under served neighborhoods south of the ship canal. Nobody has ever denied how under served the south end is, but so too are the more affluent neighborhoods that don't have access to their own neighborhood schools, for whatever reason. And, no of course families from Madrona going to McGilvra are not criminals. Like you say, and I agree with, they are in an area where there is a huge lack of equity, and are doing what they have to do to make the system work for them. Bravo to them. I would do exactly the same thing. It's ALL part of the big picture.

Anonymous said...

I'll do a ditto for anonymous @11:05's list, from the affluent and un-diverse NE. The schools are perfectly good enough. We leave for private because we have the money, and are searching for more personalized instruction (class sizes of 16, instead of 23), gifted education (SCDS/Evergreen/UCDS), religious education (parish schools, Villa), concerns about what happens in middle school (SCDS/Evergreen/Villa are all K-8).

I don't see what the school district can do about people who are affluent enough to buy Lexus educations for their children. Providing a Lexus (instead of the Toyota provided in NE) might keep me in the district, but it certainly shouldn't be offered in liu of actually giving the folks in SE access to adequate schooling (to continue the car analogy, something that drives, and isn't a lemon?).

Anonymous said...

No one's done it, but I'm wondering about whether this statistic means anything at all. How many students leave those schools on a yearly basis anyway (in a year when the school wasn't closed)?

My guess is that it's certainly a non-zero number, and that there's always a lot of turnover in the schools that were closed.

For example, the stats seem to say that 30+ percent of students in SPS don't do on-time enrollment. Some may have just slipped through the cracks, but others are actually moving during that time.

Anonymous said...

Montlake and McGilvra are smaller because their PTA's "buy down" their class sizes. Doesn't that contribute to the long wait lists at these schools? If so, should those parents be allowed to continue pushing their neighbors' kids into less desirable schools. Why blame the district for "underserving" the affluent neighborhoods near McGilvra and Montlake? Or am I missing something?

Anonymous said...

The buy down class size is a tricky situation. The topic of the last few posts is regarding the fact that SPS is loosing many families in affluent neighborhoods. Certainly the buy down which contributes to a lack of capacity in their neighborhood schools, thus forcing these families out of their neighborhoods and into less desirable neighborhoods and schools is partly to blame. However, if you were to make a policy that discontinues the buy down, you would loose many more affluent families. They stay in public schools because the school is meeting their kids needs. One of the way it meets their needs is small class size. These families can easily afford private where they are guaranteed 15 kids per class. Do we really want to loose these families?? Or, do we continue to let them buy down class size, and limit the capacity of their schools? It's a tough question, and I'm not sure of the answer. My thought would be to do whatever helps SPS retain as many students as possible. That would mean looking at how many families would leave if class size were increased VS how many families leave if they can't get into their neighborhood schools (McGilvra, Montlake).

I can tell you that my sons 3rd and 4th grade classes at Bryant have 30 kids. It's unmanageable. It's overwhelming to the kids and to the teachers. If some schools choose to spend their fund raising on buying down class size, I can't say I blame them. They are doing what the district SHOULD be doing for all students.

Anonymous said...

I think class size bydown may become a bigger issue under the new funding model. There are schools in the NE cluster that accept full classes in order to fund a head teacher, librarian, etc. Some of those positions will be funded under weighted staffing formula & schools will not get extra money for filling classes to the contract limit.

So when those schools decide that they no longer want 32 kids in a class, it will put pressure on the NE cluster schools that buy down class size. There are only so many seats available in that cluster. How will the district decide who has to take more kids?

Anonymous said...

Montlake doesn't have reduced class sizes. They have 28 or so, with a slightly reduced academic period during the day of 22. MLK, on the other hand, had very low classes sizes. It wasn't the class size that people objected to.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Well speaking of keeping class size down, how about school size? Roosevelt is too full and the kids even complain. I'm hoping the PTSA and the principal will present a united front and not allow the school to get any bigger and maybe even pull back to 425 per grade and no more. It's just a strain on the resources and the staff.

The thing that is difficult for me to understand as a PTA president is how we can have such a good school and good programs and yet the parents scatter to the winds to support their kid's program and forget about the school as whole. We can't even get 1 parent to run our fundraising (a no-bake bake sale which is basically accepting checks). We may not be able to fund the teacher and a half we pay for to be able to have more classes. It's very frustrating.

Anonymous said...

Isn't the scoop that Montlake/McGilvra/Stevens deduced that there was no point in buying down class size, because they would get assigned extra students if they did? View Ridge gets away with it because it's far enough away from failing schools.

I do admit that "buying down class size" and buying amenities like extra classes just doesn't sound equitable to me. It has the real potential to turn specific schools in to subsidized private schools, where the price of admission is a million dollar house that's two blocks away from the school. It's inequitable, and I say this as an owner of a million dollar house two blocks from a desirable school. It's really not a worthwhile endeavor for the s SPS to get into, to keep me in the school by giving me ways to make my neighborhood school into the perfect one for my kid, if that benefit doesn't flow to others. I shouldn't be getting the subsidy of public education at someone else's expense.

If small classes are good, we need to figure out a way to buy it for all the schools, not just the ones with rich donors. If we can't, we need to let kids go to school where they choose, until classes meet the limit. Frankly, it's probably a good thing that affluent people with access to good schools in NE leave the school, making the spots available to others (they get filled). The problem is different in SE, where the spots don't get filled.

I'm not too sympathetic about overcrowding at Roosevelt, either, as long as the need elsewhere is unmet.

Anonymous said...

It strikes me that Melissa's argument about parents "supporting their own programs, and scattering to the winds when looking for the support for the school as a whole" is the same problem as supporting their school, and scattering when talking about support for SPS in general. That scattering is made robust when the incentives favor it -- when you can improve the quality of your school while ignoring the needs elsewhere (limit access to Roosevelt, buy down class size in View Ridge . . .). If we incentivize badly, we can actually make the situation worse for some, even while keeping certain families in the specific schools they think are good enough for their children.

And, mind you, I understand that everyone is going to make the decision that's best for their child first. That's why the incentives are so important. If you can improve your child's lot at the expense of some unknown child somewhere you don't know about, it takes a pretty altruistic mom to give up something for their own child. I'm not that altruistic, and i don't expect anyone else to be, either. That's why I want to set up the incentives so extreme altruism isn't required.

Anonymous said...

"Providing a Lexus (instead of the Toyota provided in NE) might keep me in the district, but it certainly shouldn't be offered in liu of actually giving the folks in SE access to adequate schooling"

But is it necessarily a zero-sum problem? I think *many* of the things the district ought to be doing would benefit everyone. We needn't be afraid of doing something right just because a rich person as well as a poor person might get a benefit.

Helen Schinske

Charlie Mas said...

The problem at McGilvra and Montlake isn't a result of families buying down class size. Those schools are small because the buildings' capacities are small. They are just small buildings with small footprints.

McGilvra, a 36,504 square foot building, has a stated capacity of 192 - 230 with portables. Montlake is a mere 21,129 square feet with a capacity listed as 157, 270 with portables. There is no smaller school building in the District. In contrast, TT Minor has 50,909 square feet and room for 371 students.

These schools simply are not big enough to hold the number of elementary school age children in their reference areas.

I guess some people see the glass as half full, and some see the glass as half empty. Engineers, however, see it a different way. They say the glass is too big.

The District needs to right-size the reference areas to match the school capacities. If they were to do that, it would become clear that there are large areas of the city that are not in ANY school's reference area. Those parts of the city are being underserved by the District. The situation for elementary students between Denny and the Ship Canal is the same as the situation for high school students in Magnolia. Except that the District doesn't tell families in Magnolia that Ballard, a school they cannot get into, is their neighborhood reference school.

You know what I would like to see as the first tie-breaker? Denied access to your reference area school. Those families should get their first choice of available seats - before lottery at alternative schools, before siblings, before distance. If the District can't get you into your neighborhood school - the school that THEY say is your neighborhood school - then they should give you first shot at an open seat elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree about the untenable position of people who have, effectively, no reference school because their reference school fills up before its boundaries reaches their house. Of course, assigning a reference school to the no man's land, like the Roanoke area, though wouldn't necessarily be what the folks there want, since the school assigned couldn't be Montlake.

I don't know if this is what you meant, in your older posts, is that TOPS @ Seward is a classic example that doesn't make sense as an alternative school, putting an alternative school in a neighborhood that isn't adequately served (Roanoke).

Another group of people who have the same problem are those who move into their houses after the on-time enrollment in January. They too have no reference school.

The revision I'd like to see in the school assignment plan is a guaranteed assignment that goes with a house's location. for elementary school, at the very least.

Anonymous said...

How about free choice for everyone. A school is too popular? like Roosevelt? Let it fill up with all who choose it. Let no one be denied. At some point, its popularity will wane and other schools will become attractive.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I agree with the above poster. A guaranteed assignment that goes with your address at elementary schools would make sense, and eliminate the lack of predictability. The only thing I would add is that I think we need this at MS too. HS is a different can of worms as HS specialize, and thus should have a flexible assignment plan.

Anonymous said...

"You know what I would like to see as the first tie-breaker? Denied access to your reference area school."

This is a great idea. It's simple, easy to understand and implement, and would go very far in making those in neighborhoods without enough capacity willing to stay in the district.

No, it doesn't fix the south end schools. We need a different solution for that. But, it does seem like it would go a long way towards fixing the north-end and central problems.

Anonymous said...

"You know what I would like to see as the first tie-breaker? Denied access to your reference area school."

I don't actually understand how that would work. I guess it would give you access to alternative schools, or the under-enrolled school of your choice?

I don't think this solution is the right one. Everyone should have a reference school to which they are guaranteed access. It's a tough solution, but it's the right one.

Anonymous said...

I don't quite see how "denied access to your reference school" would work as a tie-breaker either. Wouldn't that give even more choice to those who live near popular schools, and no better choice to those who live near unpopular schools? Or am I misunderstanding?

Helen Schinske

Anonymous said...

It would give more choice to people who are being underserved because the district will not provide sufficient capacity in their neighborhood.

A different solution is needed for those who are underserved because the district will not provide sufficient quality in their neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

Yes, the above poster is right. Not only low performing, under enrolled schools represent how the district is under serving it's students. It is under serving all of the students who are on a wait list for Spectrum seats, it is under serving all of the students who can't get into their neighborhood school, it is under serving students who don't even have a neighborhood school, it is under serving students by allowing the disparity between our high schools especially in regard to AP/IB classes, and it is under serving all students by allowing enormous class size.

Anonymous said...

Given the myriad of ways the district is underserving so many students, all examples spot on, how can they possibly come up with an new assignment policy that will do anything but make those who already have what they want happier? You are in a good neighborhood school, you get to stay there. You are in an underserved neighborhood, and under the proposed new assignment plan, you have a guarantee to attend that underserved school. You also have much more limited access to choice without transportation. This is a plan?

Anonymous said...

If the district changes the assignment plan and limits choice, which I hope they do, they will have to take some initiative in building up the low performing, under enrolled schools. That means adding the necessary resources to support the program to a point that it can be successful. It will take making tough decisions, and making sure that leadership and staff are committed and qualified to lead the school in the right direction. It will take the resources to provide extra staff, extra support, smaller class size. The New School has done it, so we know it can be done. It takes support, resources and commitment. These schools have proven that they can not do it on their own. It's time for district intervention.

And, what about replicating the programs that work?? What about closing down a histoically low performing school, and re-inventing it with a program that will be attractive to the community?

We have to bring these schools up to a level that will ATTRACT families, and I think limiting choice will be a first step. Families will begin to demand improvement, instead of just choosing a different school.

Melissa Westbrook said...

The New School has done it so we know it can be done? Are you serious?

New School gets a $1M every year. Yes, if every under performing school got that kind of money, you would indeed see change. Don't use New School as an example because it is in no way a regular school.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I am serious Melissa. It's extremely tiring how you attack The New School.

Yes, they have a lot more funding than Seattle is willing to fork out. But, other states do. I believe (please correct me if my figure is slightly off) their per pupil spending is about $10,000 per student. Many other states come close to, or match this figure. Sadly, Washington doesn't. Don't you think this is something we aspire to do?? We now know for sure, that with the funding, support, low teacher/student ration, and commitment, it can be done. Knowing this, can we really turn the other cheek??

At least one of our new school board directors, Steve Sundquist, wants to increase public/private partnerships. Even though he will get berated by CEASE and maybe by you too Melissa. I say thank goodness someone is finally looking into moving this district forward, and addressing, in a serious way, improving our struggling schools, with the most vulnerable populations.

It can be done. We just have to want to do it.

Its so easy for you to beat down The New School, while your kids slid through Eckstein, Hale and Roosevelt. Three of the best, most affluent, and highest performing schools in the district. Maybe you should advocate for proper funding for our struggling schools, and work toward making all schools as good as the schools your kids were lucky enough to attend.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Anonymous, you don't know me nor do you know my family. My kids didn't "slide" through anything and I'm not going to apologize for where I live or where my sons asked to go to school.

I have talked to Steve Sundquist and I'm not against public/private partnerships. If you had read much in this blog, you'd know that. Ask Trish Dziko (of TAF) what I think and how I said I'd support her efforts.

New School, I repeat, is an anomaly that is unlikely to ever get recreated anywhere else. I would LOVE the Legislature to pony up but the day they can pump an extra $1M in every school is the day pigs fly.

To say that all I have done in the more than a decade of activism is to advocate for my children is beyond the pale. (It would be funny if it were not so sad that the one thing I truly wanted - a good gifted program - was something I never achieved.) I have worked very hard to cheerleader and point out flaws in this district because that's the only way it will get better. It truly points out that you know nothing about me, my work or my activism. So, don't attack me. If you do, then sign your name so I know who you are.

Anonymous said...

I refuse to give up on the idea that we can pump 1M into every under performing school. The only reason not to is if it doesn't work. If New School is working (and I don't follow it well enough to know), that's good enough for me. How many elementary schools would that be? We have the money. To pretend that it's impossible to come up with it (rather than it won't work) is foolish.

Charlie Mas said...

Hey, anonymous at 4:34,

You wrote that we have the money to pump $1 million into every underperforming school. Really? Where is it? I'd love to know.

Anonymous said...

Nobody asked for an apology from you Melissa, for who you are or where your kids go to school. What I said was that all kids should have the same opportunity as your kids did. Don't you agree with that?? We know it can be done as we have seen how successful The New School is. We know that many other cities fund their schools close to, or at the same level as The New School is funded. Why wouldn't we reach for that???? We have a problem in that many of our schools are extremely under performing, and we have a district that has historically turned the other cheek. It's time to do something about it. It's time for more anomalies, and maybe it's high time for pigs to fly!

And, BTW why the heck does it bother you SOOOOOOO much when people post anonymously??

Anonymously yours......

Anonymous said...

Hmmm. How good is the the New School, when all is said and done? 50% pass all 3 WASL tests in 4th grade. By that measure, it's mediocre or maybe "middle of the road". So, for $1M a school, we've proven we can get mediocre. If we want to let local dilettantes dink around in our public schools in the form of public-private partnerships, well that's one approach. But why would the taxpayers want to replicate that?

Anonymous said...

Are you kidding me??? Are you suggesting that The New School is not performing well??? What stat's are you looking at??

They have a 77% WASL reading pass rate in grade 4, for 2006

They have a 72% WASL math pass rate in grade 4, for 2006

This is competitive with some of our stronger schools, and well above the state average.

And, no achievement gap.

Now let's compare that to another K-8 school in the same cluster, who does not receive the extra "private" money, the AAA.

40% WASL, 4th gr, reading pass rate, 2006

38% WASL, 4th gr, math pass rate, 2006

Well below our average performing schools.

Well below district standards.

And check this out. The luck kids who stay with AAA through 8th grade have these results.

Only 3 students in the graduating 8th grade class passed all three subjects of the WASL.

Here are their horrid averages.

7% math pass rate, gr 8

2% Science pass rate, gr 8

40% reading pass rate grade 8.

Both K-8 schools, both in the same cluster, both with roughly the same demographics as far as ethnicity, Free lunch etc.

The New School gets extra private dollars, the AAA does not.

Can you really stick to your original statement that the New School is merely mediocre.

It is competetive with some of our stronger schools in the district, yet has some of the most vulnerable, low income, behaviorally challenged children in the district.

I say the dollars do make a huge district, along with the strong leadership of Joe Drake, and teachers that are committed to making it work.

Turn the other cheek and you will reap what you sew.

Anonymous said...

And by the way, only a handful of elementary schools in this district have a higher than 50% pass all three subject WASL rates, mainly due to science. Our district has left the vast majority of our students unprepared to pass the science WASL, so this statistic that you provided for the New School, is comparable to many of our highest performing north end schools. I'd say that's pretty darn good. You have to be careful when you present all of the components and don't manipulate them to look a certain way. Now what do you think of the New School???

Anonymous said...

Evidently, you haven't really looked at the scores for the New School (included below) 50% pass all 3 4th grade subjects, which are: reading, math, and writing. 55% pass 4th grade math. Ho hum. This is below average for an elementary school, but possibly above average for the demographic. And no, they don't take behavior challenges. In particular, they have refused students with disabilities, which is actually illegal and not a sustainable district model, especially at the price.

http://reportcard.ospi.k12.wa.us/WASLCurrent.aspx?schoolId=3517&reportLevel=School&year=2006-07&gradeLevel=4&groupLevel=District&waslCategory=1&chartType=1&gradeLevelId=3

Anonymous said...

WASL scores everywhere drop dramatically at middle school. It isn't really an apples-apples comparison using AAA's 8th grade scores. New School doesn't have any 8th grade scores. Using the fact that there's a big donor for the New School doesn't make sense as a comparison to AAA either. New School was FOUNDED as 1 rich guy's experiment (a very questionable practice). So, by WASL scores, New School beats AAA, but it isn't high performing by most standards, though it is certainly adequate. I'm sure there are many other great things about the school which aren't measured by WASL. Also probably true of AAA.

Anonymous said...

Are you looking at the official SPS annual report?? Because that show the 2006 WASL pass rates at 77 ni reading and 72 in math. Where are you getting you ho hum 50% pass rate. That figure ,for 2006, is incorrect. Please check your facts before you post.

As for the New School not dealing with behaviorally challenged children you are absolutely wrong. We had a teacher leave our north end school to go teach at the New School. This teacher was shocked at the behavior difference between the two schools. This teacher said they spent most of their day just dealing with behavior before they even go to academics, which was far different from the comfy north end school that this teacher taught at previously. Until you walk in those shoes please don't just write stuff you can't substantiate.

Please, please, get facts straight before you irresponsibly post. I don't mind people sharing their opinions, but please fact check before you make specific statements about a schools performance or anything else.

Anonymous said...

Interesting, I just compared two official websites for WASL pass rates at The New School.

The first one is the SPS school annual reports:
They show 4th gr reading, 2006, at 77% pass, and 4th gr math, 2006 at 72% pass.


The second was the OSPI state report card:
They show 4th gr reading, 2006, 86%
and 4th gr math, 2006 at 55%

These are some pretty big discrepancies.

Anonymous said...

Yes WASL scores do drop slightly (not dramatically as anonymous suggested), in Seattle, but not to extent of the AAA

7% math pass rate, gr 8

2% Science pass rate, gr 8

40% reading pass rate grade 8.

This is ridiculous.

Seems like they could use those private dollars too, doesn't it.

Anonymous said...

OSPI's scores are the official scores. OSPI gives all the various breakdowns and all the scores. SPS's site is a selected highlight. It doesn't even show writing. Who knows what they are including or omitting?

Anonymous said...

The same philanthropist supporting New School gave huge support to TT Minor as well. It amounted to absolutely no measurable difference in performance for the school. It isn't all about the money. And why do we think rich people are going to somehow save our schools, when they actually don't know anything about them?

Anonymous said...

SPS only publishes the NEW School's third grade WASL on its website, and in a faily cryptic format. People usually use 4th grade scores for comparison since it contains all the basics. 4th grade scores are usually lower as in this case.

Anonymous said...

With 40% vs 89% poverty numbers the demographics of these schools are so incredibly different, let us not try to conclude much in comparing these two schools.

New School:
Ethnicity (October 2006)
American Indian/Alaskan Native 0.8%
Asian 28.1%
Black 49.8%
Hispanic 7.2%
White 14.1%
Special Programs
Free or Reduced-Price Meals (May 2007) 40.4%
Special Education (May 2007) 6.4%
Transitional Bilingual (May 2007) 17.5%



AAA
Ethnicity (October 2006)
American Indian/Alaskan Native 1.2%
Asian 0.9%
Black 94.5%
Hispanic 3.2%
White 0.3%
Special Programs
Free or Reduced-Price Meals (May 2007) 89.1%
Special Education (May 2007) 9.4%
Transitional Bilingual (May 2007) 0.0%

Anonymous said...

"And why do we think rich people are going to somehow save our schools, when they actually don't know anything about them"

Look at the results from the New School and then you'll know why I think that rich people can help our schools.

And Dan,
Why do you think the demographics are different at the New School compared to the AAA???? They are neighbors?? Is it possible that the New school is beginning to attract back some of the folks who would have otherwise went private?? The New School must be doing something right.

Anonymous said...

Ok. AYP is measured at 4th grade, that's where comparison are required and made. Let's look at that. Go to OSPI, find the actual data.

New School: 50% of ALL students pass 3 subjects.

New School: 33% of BLACK students pass 3 subjects.

What exactly did the money do? Middle of the road for the all category, not high performing. Still a sizeable achievement gap. Scores are on par with places like Thurgood Marshall for black students. Maybe it IS somewhat better there than somewhere else. Good that some parents have zeal. So what?